Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin: To Cut a Long Story Short

Katerina Tsilingiri, Giulia Fornasa, Maria Rescigno

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) was identified more than 20 years ago as a secreted factor of a mouse thymic stromal cell line; later, a human orthologue was also identified. The signaling pathway triggered by TSLP has been extensively studied, and upregulation of the cytokine itself is linked to the pathogenesis of numerous Th2-related diseases, including atopic dermatitis, asthma, allergic responses, as well as certain types of cancers. On the other hand, TSLP mediates several immune homeostatic functions in both the gut and the thymus. Thus, a paradox occurs; why is TSLP homeostatic in certain tissues and a hallmark of exacerbated Th2 responses in the aforementioned pathologies? We and others have recently shown that in humans a novel isoform exists; this is a shorter isoform of TSLP whose expression is constitutive and controlled by a separate promoter. Short TSLP isoform mediates the homeostatic functions, whereas the long isoform is expressed at low/undetectable level at steady state and upregulated during inflammation in several tissues. Here we review the most recent data concerning the differential expression of the 2 isoforms and provide a potential explanation to the paradox. TSLP is regarded as a promising target for treatment of relevant pathologies, with a number of clinical trials already underway. It is important to design new strategies aimed at leaving intact the homeostatic effects of the short isoform while targeting the inflammatory effects of the long isoform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-182
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Atopic Diseases
  • Gut Homeostasis
  • Therapeutic Targets
  • Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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